Anyone who knows me knows I am a frustrated actor. Sadly, due to a serious illness when I was 20, I was forced to drop out in the second year of my drama degree. I took up history and journalism instead - fewer late night rehearsals! - but have never lost my hankering for the stage. I've done my bit over the years in Amdram and, for a few years, ran an educational theatre company; I also write scripts for stage and screen. So it's no surprise then that theatre features so strongly in my 1920s murder mystery series, Poppy Denby Investigates.
Poppy's Aunt Dot is a former West End actress turned Suffragette. Her best friend, Delilah Marconi, is an up-and-coming actress, socialite and jazz-age flapper. The plot of book 2 in the series, The Kill Fee, involves a murder in a dressing room at the Old Vic and some of the luvvies are suspects. The real-life Lilian Baylis, founder of the National Theatre, Opera and Ballet, as well as the iconic Russian director Constantin Stanislavski both make an appearance; and other artists, such as Charlie Chaplin, Nijinsky and Rudolf Valentino have cameo roles elsewhere in the series.
One of the things I enjoy most about this series - apart from the fun of actually writing the books and spending time researching a fabulous period in history - is that I am able to play 'roles' to help promote it.
Here I am in full flapper gear at the recent book signing.
And here I am in a 'day outfit' (which I made from an original 1920s pattern) with a 1922 Remington typewriter just like the one my character Poppy Denby would use.
But most fun of all, here I am playing a dead suffragette on a railway line for a short video trailer I wrote and directed for the first book in the series, The Jazz Files. (please note I'm the dead brunette, not the beautiful blonde playing Poppy - that's the lovely up-and-coming young actor, Amber Irish.)
For more on Fiona and the Poppy Denby Investigates series visit www.poppydenby.com